Virginia Corrections Officer Job Description

Corrections is one of the fastest growing careers in the State of Virginia’s law enforcement field. The recent starting salary for an entry level officer was between $27,486-$31,812 a year, depending on previous experience and qualifications. Working as a corrections officer is quite unlike a normal nine-to-five desk job; officers assist in the reform process of prisoners while at the same time maintaining facility safety, order, and discipline.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons operates two major correctional facilities in Virginia.  The U.S. Penitentiary in Lee is a high security facility with an adjacent minimum security prison camp.  The Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg consists of a low security Federal Correctional Institution as well as a medium security one. In the latest population count, there were 5,039 inmates housed in these facilities.

Application and Hiring Process

Federal Correctional Officers

Federal correctional officer jobs may be found at www.USAJobs.gov. Once there, applicants will be asked to verify their eligibility, which include

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a criminal history without felony or serious misdemeanor convictions
  • Be between 20 and 37 years of age
  • Have a good credit history

When applying for federal correctional officer jobs, candidates may seek a GS-5 or GS-6 pay grade.  The educational and experience requirements for GS-5 jobs are:

  • Have at least three years of experience in
    • Management
    • Sales
    • Security
    • Emergency response
    • Teaching
    • Child care; or
  • Have a bachelor’s degree

The requirements for GS-6 jobs are

  • Have at least one year of experience in
    • Corrections/detentions
    • Law enforcement
    • Mental health treatment; or
  • Have at least nine semester hours of graduate study in law, social science, or criminal justice

Virginia Department of Corrections

Applications for correctional officer jobs in Virginia may only be completed online. Those interested in applying can search for open positions on Virginia’s employment website and submit their application through an online account. There are 35 major correctional units and institutions across the state and numerous other minor facilities that post job announcements seeking corrections officers. The human resources office will review all completed applications to ensure candidates meet the minimum qualifications and pass on a list of the top names to the hiring manager.

Applicants will then have to navigate the hiring process, making it through first an interview and then a four-part agility and endurance test consisting of:

  • Push-ups: Females must complete two push-ups and males must complete 12
  • Sit-ups: All candidates must complete 12 sit-ups in one minute
  • Sprint: All candidates must complete a 51 meter/56 yards/168-foot sprint in 20 seconds or less
  • Half mile run/walk to be completed in six minutes and 30 seconds or less

If candidates are selected for hire they must also make it through a background investigation, medical screening, and drug testing.

Training for the Correctional System

Federal Correctional Officers

Federal correctional officers must initially receive 80 hours of training at their assigned facility.  They must then attend a three week training program held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in Glynco, GA. This program will provide training in

  • Firearms
  • Marksmanship
  • Self-defense
  • Correctional policies and procedures
  • Legal issues
  • Vehicle operations

Virginia Department of Corrections

The Virginia Department of Corrections has two training academies available for its correctional recruits to attend and get the training they need to be effective and competent officers. The Academy for Staff Development (ASD) is located in Crozier, and the ASD-West is located in Marion. Both facilities offer full training services and include classrooms, dining, and housing sections, with the ASD having additional access to an adjacent state-of-the-art firing range. After new corrections officers graduate from either academy they will begin a period of supervised on-the-job training. Officers are instructed in:

  • Non-lethal weapon use and deployment
  • Prisoner restraint
  • Corrections protocol and procedures
  • Sociology and psychology

How to Become a Corrections Officer: Minimum Requirements

Potential applicants should be aware of certain minimum requirements for corrections jobs across the State of Virginia. These include:

  • A demonstrated ability to prepare workplace documentation and reports and to comprehend and read workplace procedures and policies
  • No domestic violence or felony convictions
  • High school diploma or GED
  • At least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license

Candidates who would like to increase their chances of being hired should be able to meet at least one of the following:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Able to speak Spanish
  • Military, criminal justice, or related experience
  • Coursework in higher education
  • Reliable work history

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